January 4th, 2010
05:34 PM ET
8 years ago

Parker Griffith's staff resigns

Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday.

Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday.

Washington (CNN) - Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday morning, nearly two weeks after the former Blue Dog Democrat announced his intention to join the Republican Party.

Eleven staff members tendered their resignation, including Griffith's chief of staff, legislative director and press secretary. Griffith's campaign consulting team announced in December that they were ending their relationship with the first-term congressman.

"Parker Griffith has abandoned the legacy of conservative leadership," Sharon Wheeler, Griffith's chief of staff said in a statement released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"We believe he made a mistake – a well-intentioned but misguided mistake that is not in the interest of the great people of North Alabama who elected him a year ago as a Democrat," Wheeler said in a statement, adding that staffers "cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him."

Griffith was first elected in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote in the conservative 5th district of Alabama. John McCain beat Barack Obama by 23 points in the district that cycle.

Full statement after the jump:

For immediate release: Monday, January 4, 2010

Representative Parker Griffith’s Staff Resigns

~Say Independent-Minded Democrats Succeed for North Alabama~

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Nearly every staff member of Representative Parker Griffith’s office tendered their resignation this morning in response to his recent decision to change party membership. This included the Chief of Staff, along with the entire legislative and communications team. In departing Griffith’s office, the staff characterized his party-switch as a “mistake” and emphasized that this district has “benefited” from conservative Democratic leadership. Many of the staff members had worked for Griffith since before he arrived in Washington including several who worked on his campaign for Congress in 2008.

"Alabama's Fifth District has deserved and has benefited from great Democratic conservative leadership since Reconstruction. And until now they had it,” Chief of Staff Sharon Wheeler said. “But Parker Griffith has abandoned the legacy of conservative leadership provided by Bud Cramer, Ronnie Flippo, Bob Jones, Howell Heflin, Jim Allen, Lister Hill, John Sparkman, Big Jim Folsom, and so many more.”

Joining Wheeler in departing from Griffith’s staff were: Megan Swearingen (Legislative Director), Brian Greer (Senior Legislative Assistant), Will Crain (Legislative Assistant), Sean Magers (Press Secretary), Arinze Ifekauche (Legislative Correspondent), Chase Chesser (Legislative Correspondent), Mary Lou Hughston (Staff Assistant), Dr. Anjali Shah Kastorf (Congressional Fellow), Leslee Oden (Congressional Fellow), and Andrew Menefee (Intern). The staff members waited until they could return to Washington to resign. Last month, Griffith’s campaign consulting team announced they had terminated their relationship with Griffith.

Wheeler continued, “I appreciate Congressman Griffith's being a very dedicated congressman. But we believe he made a mistake – a well-intentioned but misguided mistake that is not in the interest of the great people of North Alabama who elected him a year ago as a Democrat. As his staff, we wish him only the best, and we all remain committed to the citizens of the Tennessee Valley. But we cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him. It is with deep sadness that we leave our work for the Fifth District. But because we are unwavering in our own principles, we have no choice but to move on. We do not know what the future holds, but we are taking a leap of faith with the belief we will soon find ourselves in the employment of principled public officials."


Sean Magers, Press Secretary –

"It has been a privilege working for a Blue Dog for the past year, and I look forward to continuing to promote the progress already achieved in twelve short months by the Democratic Party. Working for my home Congressional District has afforded me a true passion to work for the results that are generated by a thoughtful Democratic process, and I look forward to taking that work ethic with me where ever I go.”

Will Crain, Legislative Assistant –

"It has been a true honor serving the people of my home district and state, but I cannot in good faith follow Dr. Griffith into the Republican Party. I took a job with this office to carry on the conservative, Democratic policies of Bud Cramer, who like many of his predecessors helped lead North Alabama to periods of remarkable economic development and prosperity. While I will always be proud of the work our staff accomplished with Dr. Griffith, I look forward to bringing the bridge-building and fiscally responsible policies of the Blue Dogs we worked hard to advance to other career opportunities. These are the principles that have traditionally benefited the Tennessee Valley and that I believe will lead our nation back to an era of economic growth and security."

Brian Greer, Senior Legislative Assistant –

Working as a member of the Honorable Congressman Parker Griffith's staff has been an exciting and educational journey. However, my personal and professional values do not permit me to advance the Republican agenda. Although Congressman Griffith’s views have changed, mine have remained aligned with the Democratic Party. I believe we have accomplished a great deal in the 111th Congress. Much work remains to be done, and I plan to continue working for Democrats in a different capacity, specifically focusing on helping Americans, strengthening our economy, and keeping our population safe from threats both foreign and domestic. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for support during this transition.

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soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. laurie

    He didn't pain over using democrats money to be elected and the "promises" he made during his campaign right? Sounds as if he had a devious plan all along!! How Republican of him.

    January 4, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. lifelong democrat

    Griffith was elected because he was a moderate conservative, not a liberal. Blame Rahmn Emmanuel for recruting conservatives to ran as democrats last 2008 election. I'm socially liberal but financially conservative; what does that make me? Moderate. Even I, a lifelong Democrat cannot stand what my party is doing right now to our country, how much more a conservative democrat like Griffith. I'll stay at home come November, I've no love right now for my party. I want bi-partisanship, I want transparency which Obama promised – foolishly I believed him.

    January 4, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Who Cares

    Who cares what you call yourself. All the comments about no integrity merely reflect the problem with politics. To the average voter it is more important to call yourself a Republican or a Democrat, than to vote your conscience. Jen and Max, calling our Lieberman as liar is amazing. The Dems abandoned him merely for voting to fund the war. I am a Republican who voted for Lieberman when he ran as an Independant because he voiced his view, which I supported. All the name calling that is being done here is the exemplification of the ills of politics. Vote for what you believe in and let the constituents know what you believe in.

    January 4, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. Justjean

    The moral is clear. Beware of conservative "blue-dog" Democrats. They mean you harm. Just because his conscience got to him and he revealed his true nature does not undo the damage he has done toward those who voted him in thinking he was a Democrat.

    Good riddance. True Democrats need to hold your Blue Dogs feet to the fire and primary them OUT.

    Did Griffith really have pangs of conscience or does he believe the conservative tripe that somehow they are going to rise again? Come ON. Eight years of crap and we are supposed to forget it in a year and a half? We will NEVER forget the oughties and the naughty Republicans that colored that decade red.

    January 4, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Marcel

    Griffith is just another politician with no principles or values who will shift according to which way he thinks the wind is blowing.

    January 4, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Tanbiker2

    Bravo for the Congressman's staff. They have more courage and integrity than he does.

    January 4, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Reggie

    They quit because he was planning to replace them all. Now, they can go and find a liberal to work for. WHo needs them, anyway.

    January 4, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Jeff R

    The Congressman made his decision based on his personal beliefs and values, that of his constituents and the welfare of our nation. Those beliefs seems to be in direct conflict with House Democrats and their leadership (or should we say lack thereof)! Their actions over the past year has been nothing short of an attempted governmental takeover to control the populace, better known as Socialism. His staffers made their decision, I suppose, based on their beliefs and values, however misguided they may be. I support the Congressman for his views, for putting the common sense values and beliefs of his constituents above politics. If he got it wrong, we will know come November 2nd. I think we will see he got it right!

    January 4, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. Jack49

    Congressman Griffith has made a very wise and exceedingly brave move. The staff are the ones who are misguided. It's incredible how terribly, terribly blind these people are.

    January 4, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Gil Oberdas

    Will we do anything to get re-elected? I think Parker is in for a big surprise come his re-election time! We are all sick of the party of "no!" and he joins them????

    January 4, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. Dist5

    He voted no to stimulus, no to cap in trade, and no to health care. There is no loss here for the Dem's and no gain for the Repub's.

    Here in Alabama it seems that both sides of the isle are pretty much in line. We can not afford Medicare... so how can we afford a new "system."

    Our bread and butter is manufacturing, steel production, etc... (well what is left of it... thank you Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, Honda and the rest of the non-union autos) Our power comes from coal burning plants. So that is why nearly all our congressmen left and right voted down Cap n' Trade.

    Who ever replaces him will have the same values red or blue.

    January 4, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Kweso

    Griffith was elected under the guise that he was a declared Democrat. But, like a wolf in sheep clothing, his true nature was revealed and whilst I respect his decision to claim his true political identity, he did betray the faithful staff that thought they were serving a true Democrat. I say radiance to them for their sense of integrity and devotion to their conscience.

    January 4, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Joe in NJ

    I bet the staff will have a good ol' time trying to find new jobs.

    January 4, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. AJ

    Too bad Obama's staff didn't quit too. After they found out "Change you can believe in" was just a meaningless slogan and Obama had neither the character or the will to back it up, they must have been sorely disappointed. Once again we democrats choose a candidate with no substance, only an empty fantasy. When will we ever learn?

    January 4, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Dems Hate the Truth

    Some of the very same liberals condemning this man were rooting on Arlen Specter last year. Liberals are shameless in their hypocrisy.

    January 4, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. hrdwknman

    Looks like Mr Griffith got tired of Obama politics. Good for him. Wish there were more that stood up for true americans.

    January 4, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. SG

    Funny all the clueless comments from folks with no knowledge of the actual situation. The district is conservative, and will elect a republican in the fall. Griffith is no dummy, he made this move simply to ensure he would be that republican.

    HIs staff got wind that most of them were being replaced, and took preemptive action. Note how their comments reveal several of them to be just democrat flacks.

    January 4, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Independent Texan

    I think that many people will be vying for those open positions. With all the unemployment out there, he will receive many applications and find good people to do the job. This is just a minor inconvenience for him. Just post the jobs and watch the resume's roll in. They should resign if they don't agree with this move. I just don't think he was a true conservative Democrat. I don't think there are ANY of those in Washington! LOL I just find it hard to believe that those staffers resigned without having another job lined up – at least not in this economy. I know I can't afford to do that!

    January 4, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. NSR

    Still perpetuating the lie that there's actually a DIFFERENCE between the two parties? There isn't. Much ado about very little.

    January 4, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Lisa Stein

    Finally! A guy who sees the Democratic party as the idiots they are. Good for him. We don't need anymore tax and spend Democrats putting us in permanent debt to a communist country. AND creating a healthcare systems as personal as the local DMV!

    January 4, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Alex -DC

    Did Specter's staff resign? If so where's the article on that? At least might have mentioned how common or unxommon for staff to resign after a party switch. Also to libs having something to say about Joe Liberman. He won as independent. What else do you want? Put up a better candidate next time.

    January 4, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Jonathan

    Our Government is a puppet show of thieves,
    Bought and Paid for by the Corporate and Wall Street Ganglords.

    January 4, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. Matthew in Wisconsin

    Again I have to ask: Why does EVERYTHING in Washington have to based on party affiliation. Why couldn't Griffith just represent his district by voting for what he thought was morally and rationally correct. All this partisanship is destroying our country. Paraphrasing a Sunday morning news show. Crafting a perfect piece of legislation is impossible because EVERYONE’S number one priority is to get re-elected. In our current system, compromise and working with the opposing party would guarantee that this will be your last term in Congress. Only the extreme wings of each party are being represented. Moderate is a dirty word.

    January 4, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. D. Bunker

    I'll take a "tax and spend" Dem over a "tax cut and spend" Rep any day of the week. In case you haven't noticed, the first approach can balance a budget and the second cannot. Compare Clinton and Bush if you need further proof.

    January 4, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Biased

    How ironic that democrats just love it when a republican switches to their party but can't stand it when a democrat switches calling him a blue dog and never a "real democrat" anyway and good riddance. If his staff wishes to quit, then so be it, but were they originally hired by the democratic party or by the man they work for? So his staff appears to be deciding that unless this elected official acts in the way they wish him to – then they will quit? Well, then quit. You have no right to hold him hostage to your own ideals and wishes as to how he should be behaving than anyone else has until he meets his constituents at the ballot box.

    January 4, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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